Exciting plans emerge for old Sheffield tourist office

The former tourist information office in Sheffield city centre
The former tourist information office in Sheffield city centre
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Sheffield's defunct tourist office could get a new lease of life as a base for the world's oldest football club.

The bijou outlet beside the Winter Garden has lain empty since Sheffield Council decided to shut the office last autumn and focus on promoting the city's visitor attractions online.

Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims

Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims

But Sheffield FC is eyeing up the venue, which it views is a perfect spot from which to sell its wares and promote Sheffield as the home of football, helping the city grab a bigger slice of the lucrative sports tourism market.

READ MORE: Sheffield tourist office could close as visitors move online

Club chairman Richard Tims, who is in the early stages of talks to take over the premises, believes the prominent location could play a key role in marketing Sheffield's footballing heritage to a wider audience.

"It's a great opportunity to make this a flagship in our drive to better promote Sheffield as the home of football," he said.

"It would stock some of our products and those of partners who want to get involved, but more importantly it would raise awareness of the city's footballing history.

READ MORE: Sheffield FC's stadium plans backed by 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar

"All four clubs - Wednesday, United, Hallam FC and us - are coming together to make the city known as the birthplace of football, and it's about time.

"Sheffield could be a focal point for football tourism. Around 800,000 tourists come to the UK each year to watch football and if we could get just 10 per cent of that market it would be huge for the city."

Sheffield FC plays its home games in Dronfield, just outside Sheffield, but has ambitious plans to build a new stadium at the site of its original Olive Grove ground in Heeley.

The club, whose Dronfield ground is a popular destination for global football fans, has sold its wares at pop-up locations on Chapel Walk and Ecclesall Road, but the former tourist office would be its most prominent location yet.